Jul 262017

Interactive, Inviting,  and Informative

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Source: Gift from Brother

This attractive coffee-table sized biography has long caught my eye for many reasons. One, being the superb and striking color of the cover (I love purple!), Secondly, because it is by Janet Todd, who is well-known for her many scholarly works on Jane Austen and other female authors. And finally, because it comes with removable memorabilia! In recognition of the 200th anniversary of Jane Austen’s passing this month, I thought reading about Jane Austen, her life, her times…and her novels would be a most apropos way to remember and commemorate her. 😉


This 112 page collection is divided into twenty-two chapters. Each chapter is between four and six pages long and there is at least one image per page. In three separate locations of the book are purple envelopes that hold removable facsimiles of letters, manuscripts, articles, and other items such as a map of Bath. The text provides a concise overview of Jane Austen’s life, her family, important events that happened during her lifetime, and the creation and publishing of her novels.


I loved how the chapters were organized in this collection. I love that the history of Jane Austen’s life was interspersed between the chapters about her novels. I thoroughly enjoyed the inclusion of images from Jane Austen’s novels and movies as well artwork relevant to the time period. The images were large, stunning, and tied into the text beautifully. And I thought it was so fun to have removable bits to take out and touch and explore. One of my favorites was looking at the map of Bath and trying to find all the places mentioned in Jane Austen’s novels and biographies. In addition, I love the copy of “The History of England” complete with illustrations from Cassandra Austen! I will say though, that the handwritten manuscripts and letters were a bit hard to read, so sadly I often didn’t read them all the way through.

Similar to Maggie Lane’s Jane Austen’s World, this book is not intending to be a scholarly study that shares a detailed and extensive analysis of Jane Austen’s life. It is a beautiful and elegant visual feast that provides readers with an understanding of who Jane was and what she experienced in her life. I am happy to say that I did learn some new things about Jane Austen that I didn’t know before, such as Mansfield Park earned her the most profit in her lifetime and that there were several stressful and worrisome incidents that took place in the Austen family in the years 1814-1817 that may have helped contribute to Jane Austen’s failing health.


Jane Austen, Her Life, Her Times, and Her Novels is a supremely gorgeous and informative volume! I think any Jane Austen fan or admirer would be more than delighted to have such a lovely tome to peruse and grace their bookshelf!

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I hope you enjoy this little video preview I made!

Sorry the page flipping is in reverse order, it just worked so much better when I did it with my left hand!

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  32 Responses to “Jane Austen: Her Life, Her Times, and Her Novels – Janet Todd”


    Sounds wonderful Meredith. Have put it on my birthday list! Love the front cover and the colour also.


    What a gorgeous book! Thanks for sharing, Meredith. I have bought myself a copy now too thanks to you.


    I own this book and I love it too. Well worth the price for anyone who loves Jane.


    OH, Meredith… how absolutely marvelous. I might not have considered the book. Your video was delightful. Oh what a collection. Thank you for sharing this with us. Next time I’m in the bookstore… I’m looking for it.


      Thanks, Jeanne! I’m so glad you enjoyed the video! It may be hard to find in the bookstore since it came out around 3 years ago. But best of luck in your hunt!


    Loved this and the music. Do I dare ask? Was that you playing the piano?


    Love the idea of all the memorabilia inside! And your video is a creative enhancement to your review. Have you thought about letting the author and publisher know about it? I’m sure they would find it valuable and imagine they would link their own publicity to your site.


      Me too! It was such a brilliant touch. Thank you for the kind words about the video. I really didn’t think the author or publisher would be interested as the book has been out for some time. But maybe I’ll see if they are. 😉


    Loved your review of this beautiful book, one,I’m sure any Austen fan would cherish!

    Love the cover (purple is my favourite colour),but what’s really impressive are the letters,maps etc that bring Jane and her characters to life!

    Maybe Santy might drop this down my chimney on Christmas Eve! Wouldn’t that be delightful!

    Cheers for sharing your thoughts!


      Thank you, Mary! It is definitely a wonderful book to cherish! I loved all the interesting removable memorabilia. Yes, that would – a perfect Christmas gift for Jane Austen!


    Such a lush, gorgeous book!! Thank you for your video tour of it, including all of the envelope contents!!

    Definitely going on my Christmas list!! 🙂

    Susanne 🙂


    It is a lovely book Meredith. I’ve had it for quite some time.


    My, isn’t this gorgeous. And my radar completely missed it. ??? I feel like I’ve been living under a rock. No, just life happening as it does to all. 🙂 What a sweet brother too. Great video, perfect to include in a review for such a visual and tactile pleasurable book like that. Thanks Meredith.


      It is! Even more so in person than the video shows! LOL! It did come out a few years ago and I don’t know if it was sold in any stores like Barnes and Noble. So happy I could help bring this book to your attention. 🙂 Yes, my brother is wonderful and loves to spoil me with Jane Austen gifts! Thanks so much for all your kind words!


    It´s the perfect gift for everyone who loves Jane Austen, her novels and epoch!.
    Thanks for the video, it shows the beauty of the book. I like the purple envelopes and the high quality of the images. One question: did you play the music we hear in the video? if so, you play so well!


      So true, Teresa! I love how they made everything so purple!!! 😉 I am sadly not playing the background, maybe I will one day though I have several Jane Austen piano books!


    Wow! That looks like a gorgeous collection.


    Oh my! I am immediately adding this to my Must-read list. Lovely video too!


    What a gorgeous book. Love the photos in it and loved the background music. I am sure that is you playing. Thanks for sharing. The addition of the memorabilia folder is unique to my experience in reading.


      It is unique and a brilliant touch! I don’t think I know of any other Jane Austen book that does that. Glad you enjoyed the video with music. I feel so bad I didn’t play the love music myself, it is just from my P&P soundtrack! I will have to make a recording of me playing it though!!


    What an incredible book! Amazing and beautiful.



    Love this! Thank you so much for the video, the pictures on Amazon do not do it justice, it really is a book that needs to be seen. Next time I am in the US I am getting this book!


    Thanks for the lovely video! Looks like a gorgeous book and a great read.

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